And What a Crawl It Was!
The JP crawl this afternoon commenced at noon - and didn't end til 5! Whew!
There were 12 of us and lots of goodies - we sliced everything up - even the 3 or 4 inch round pupusa - and chowed down mightily. (Pictures to come!)
Beginning at Jackson Square, we ate our way down Centre street. We began at the new Tropical Cafe (someone else will provide the details), a friendly Dominican place, with our only real sitdown and a platter of samples and soup. The Cafe also offers a variety of meats - including oxtails and rabbit, cooked in a homey, simple manner, as well as fish and other seafood - all served cafeteria style, so you can check it out visually before ordering.
Then we met the delightful Madrego - David will give the details, had a sweet snack at Estella's, and then on to Tacos El Charro. I was surprised - as I thought it had been sold, but the owner told us they decided in the end to stay. We had (help me, chowers!) tacos el pastor - pork marinated (?) in pineapple, very flavorful, a tostada (?) with ceviche (fish "cooked" in lime juice) - really yummy - and another taco-y pork with peppers - All delish. Meanwhile, the intrepid Limster and Lydia went across the street to Alex's Chimis, and brought back a "pork sandwich" - a nice crusty baguette with shredded pork, some mayo, tomato stuff - Again, very tasty! Oh, and a good flan...
On to the Pupusa spot - Pupusa Guanaca? On the corner - We knew it would take a bit of time as they cook to order - the pupusa again was interesting and appealing (I'm running out of adjectives - soory I'm not better at deconstructing the ingredients of all these great mouthfuls), with a nice shredded spicy slaw. We also got a Salvadoran taco - quite different from Mexican but it went by too fast for me to give a good description. We also asked for three horchatas and got three tostadas (!) - crackely (in a good way!) fried small tortillas with a nice bean spread. So then we went back and got our horchatas - with cinnamon. Certainly refreshing - it's a milky, sweet, cold drink. For some of us, it really hit the spot, and others reminisced about "horchatas they have known"...
So do you think we were done? Nope - While some of us waited for the pupusas, others scouted out the Miami Restaurant across the way, and brought back a Cubano (a pressed sandwich with ham, pork, and cheese) , a pork tamale, and pork "en hojas" (in leaves.) Maybe because we waited to eat all of this until after we had our pupusa and horchata, it wasn't the shining point of the day. Some of liked the Cubano...
So, after a few goodbyes, we decided to get ourselves moving - and on to the sweets that beckoned! We hoofed it over to Cafe Ula - in the Brewery buildings on Amory St, just past Stonybrook and a bit towards Green - for some pizelli - a flat, sweet wafer, and a popover with honey that hit the spot. Finally, a bit more of the old shoe leather and we were at Canto 6 (on Green, one block from the T, going away from JP center) - for the grand finale of a tart (plum?), monkey bread - which turned out was a sweet light cinnamon-y cake, a wonderful almond macaroon, and a Gruyere croissant . How's all that for a last hurrah?
And here's the punchline - Guess what the total was for the whole shebang, from Jackson Square to Canto 6? Ten smackeroos each! I'm not kidding!
On to next time! (And look for the upcoming pics and further details from David....)
Thanks for the write-up, fredid. My favorite discovery of the day were the arepitas de yuca we had at our first stop, Cafeteria Tropical. These were fried yuca patties flavored with anise (I think anise oil or extract maybe because there were no visible fennel seeds in their version). Delicious! I would definitely go back to this place and get those again. Also while we were there I saw several people order a whole fried fish with a tomato-based sauce of some kind. I'd order that next time.
My other favorite was the ceviche tostada at Tacos el Charro. A very balanced ceviche, good texture and acid. Nice crunch of the tostada.
It was a wonderful 5 hours and $10 spent. Thanks to Limster for making it happen.
As always, it was very fun to eat with and learn from a pack of hounds. Loved the arepitas de yuca at Cafeteria Tropical and also their chicharron/fried pork rind; this was probably my favourite stop.
Madrega's stand was a nice treat, I liked the beef version of their empanada the most and it was dirt cheap at $! a piece.
I think the cake I liked at Estrella's was the tre leches cake, but it's diabetes in a box. Very sweet.
I was impressed by the ceviche tostada at Tacos el Charro and I also enjoyed the tostadas at Pupusa Guanaca, a nice thin spread of (refried?) bean, a light sprinkle of cheese on a crispy and moderately thick tostada. The horchata wasn't as good as I remembered; Taqueria Mexico will probably be my go to place for that.
Alex's Chimi's doesn't seem to have any sort of menu now, but I vaguely remembered that they made sandwiches (plus from the name Chimi), so we tried the pork one. The consensus seemed to be that we got more satsfaction out of it than the Cubano at Miami. That flan was very dense!
I wished there was a hint of anise flavouring in the pizzelle at Ula; it's nice but I certainly won't go there just for that from the North End. The was a pleasant selection of good iced teas. Enjoyed the smoky Russian Caravan.
It was indeed a fine crawl. Thanks to Limster for organizing and fellow hounds for making it a fun time. Now for the chow. Cafeteria Tropicale was very good and worth a second visit, but i came late to this. The soup with yucca, beef and potatoes was very nice. Personal favorites were the pastellinos from the little stand for taste and value ($1). Has anyone tried his restaurant cucina grande in chelsea? From El Charro, ceviche tostada was excellent and very refreshing and the pork in the tacos al pastor, tender and redolent with pineapple marinade. Miami restaurant in general was a disappointment. I thought the sandwich from Alex's Chimis was good but post crawl, I got a roast chicken for dinner for my wife that was terrific. Ula cafe was OK in a young and trendy sort of way but Canto 6 is a terrific bakery. The raspberry plum tart and monkey bread were my favorites there. Great eating and sharing for my first chowhound outing. As I said when I got home, I have found my people.
Thanks for the report! Although I live in Jamaica Plain, I do not always get to all of these places regularly. I have never tried the Cafeteria Tropica. Will do so soon!